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Daily Care Team 'Huddles' Earn National Award for Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital|
ARLINGTON, Texas — In football, teammates huddle together to map out a winning strategy. In health care, a similar concept can be applied to help achieve a win for the patient.
At Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, daily “huddles” bring together nurses, social workers, nutritionists, physical therapists, chaplains, and other disciplines involved in a patient’s treatment to review patients’ statuses and plans of care. The ritual recently earned the 2010 Richard L. Doyle Award for Innovation and Leadership in Healthcare from Milliman Care Guidelines, a national award given by an independent panel of health care experts to recognize leaders and innovators.
The process has also increased coordination of care, improved patient satisfaction and decreased the patient’s average length of stay in the hospital.
During huddles, the care team evaluates obstacles, determines a patient’s progress, creates a discharge plan and identifies an optimal way to use resources. The team uses nationally recognized, evidence-based care guidelines to help assess the patient’s plan of care and help identify concerns early. Each member walks away with specific assignments.
“One of the most important aspects of working in a huddle group is the communication that’s involved,” said Susan Allen, social worker at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. “Each discipline has a chance to interact with each other to bring to light issues that maybe the rest of the huddle group has not thought about.”
Huddle members are also briefed on the patient’s social needs, financial needs, family dynamics, and other considerations for leaving the hospital.
“I think the huddles have given us a broader perspective of all the things that make up patient care,” said Dr. Emmanuel Allotey, hospitalist on the medical staff at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. “Some patients can be stable from a medical standpoint, but they may have other needs that we need to address. We want to see that they’re going to a safe environment.”
The key member of care team huddles is the patient, said Allen, though they may not realize they’re part of the team until they’re brought in as a member.
“We have to meet the patient where they are,” Allen said. “Patients live in the real world, so we want to be able to help them follow through on what we teach them when they get back into their home environment.”
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